ALEXANDRIA, VA – A new report, released yesterday by the Rocky Mountain High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) office, shows a dramatic spike in traffic-related fatalities attributed to marijuana use in the almost four years since the state legalized the drug. Drivers testing positive for marijuana were a factor in 21 percent of all Colorado traffic deaths in 2015, up from only 10 percent in 2009.
At the same time, Colorado now ranks number one in past-month marijuana use among youths and college-age adults. Moreover, youth past-month use is now 74 percent higher than the national average, up from 39 percent higher than the national average in 2011-12.
“This information, compiled from publicly available statistics, is yet another example of hard data demonstrating what we have already suspected to be true: that legalized marijuana policies have a tremendously negative — and costly — impact on public health and safety, especially on our roads,” said Dr. Kevin Sabet, co-founder of Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM). “Reports like this continue to prove that corporate, commercial interests are being prioritized over the well-being of our communities.”
According to the study, the increasing frequency of marijuana use correlates with a higher frequency of traffic deaths related to the drug. Marijuana-related traffic fatalities in Colorado have increased 62 percent since 2013, immediately after marijuana was legalized. And despite medical and recreational marijuana businesses being banned in 68 percent of local jurisdictions, there are still a total of 940 retail marijuana stores and marijuana dispensaries in Colorado, more than all the 322 Starbucks locations and 202 McDonald’s in the state combined.
Jo McGuire, co-chair of SAM’s Colorado affiliate and president & CEO of 5 Minutes of Courage, a Colorado advocacy group for drug-free communities, workplaces, and youth, commented, “These outcomes are certainly not what Colorado voters intended when they were promised ‘controls.’ It is time Colorado policy makers are held accountable to protect the citizens who were duped by the marijuana industry.”
“Colorado has become a corporate free-for-all for pot businesses,” said Jeffrey Zinsmeister, SAM’s Executive Vice President. “As the report shows, the marijuana industry is rapidly becoming the next Big Tobacco, placing profits before public health and public safety.”
The full Rocky Mountain HIDTA report can be found here.